Heat wave in central US shows no signs of ending

Posted July 18, 2011, at 12:33 p.m.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Heat advisories and warnings were in place in 17 states, from Texas to Michigan, as temperatures and humidity combined to make being outside uncomfortable for millions. One National Weather Service forecaster called the heat wave “unrelenting” and said sweaty residents shouldn’t expect any relief soon: A so-called “heat dome” over the region isn’t moving much.

In Oklahoma City was on pace to break its record for 100-degree days — 50 set in 1980 — with triple-digit heat possible through September.

It has been even worse in western Oklahoma, where temperatures at 110 or above have been common in recent weeks. In Enid, asphalt at a major intersection along U.S. Highway 412 buckled Saturday night from the intense heat.

In Chicago and Detroit, city officials said cooling centers would remain open this week, as temperatures as high as 105 were forecast in Illinois.

The Schwan’s USA Cup youth soccer tournament in Blaine, Minn., suspended play for a time Sunday because of heat indexes that soared to 110 degrees.

Police said heat may have played a role in the death of a 55-year-old man at a homeless camp in Springfield, Mo., on Saturday. Police found him in a small tent after others at the camp raised alarm. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

Tea party debt plan takes center stage

WASHINGTON — The next step in the weeks-long saga over how to increase the government’s borrowing cap is to let House tea party forces try it their way.

A Republican “cut, cap and balance” plan set for a House vote Tuesday would condition a $2.4 trillion increase in the so-called debt limit on an immediate $100 billion-plus cut from next year’s budget and adoption by Congress of a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget.

The idea appears to be to allow tea party-backed GOP lawmakers to have the run of Congress this week in hopes that they’ll ultimately be able to stomach a plan emerging in the Senate to give President Barack Obama sweeping power to order a $2.5 trillion increase in the debt limit without approval by Congress.

The cut, cap and balance plan, however, is a dead letter with Obama and in the Democratic-controlled Senate — as is a separate effort by Senate Republicans to adopt a balanced budget amendment. Amending the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote of both Houses, including 67 votes in the Senate, where Republicans control just 47.

Public opinion polls show that voters like the idea of a balanced budget, but the government faces such massive budget gaps — it now borrows more than 40 cents of every dollar it spends — that the cuts required to eliminate the deficit were too draconian for even the GOP-dominated House to endorse balancing the budget anytime soon. The House Republican budget still leaves deficits in the $400 billion range after 10 years.

UK: ‘Europe not doing enough’ for Africa drought

NAIROBI, Kenya — A British official on Saturday called on rich European countries to do more to help some 10 million people who need aid because of a devastating drought in the Horn of Africa.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell told reporters that the British government will give $85 million to drought relief and he urged other nations to contribute more.

“It is a terrible thing in our world that a baby should die from lack of food,” he said, describing desperate Somali women and children who had arrived at refugee camps in Kenya on bruised and bleeding feet, having been forced to leave the bodies of family members behind them in the bush.

Mitchell did not mention the Somali government during his speech. A report earlier this year by a Somali government official said Arab donors gave tens of millions of dollars in cash over the past two years. The funds are unaccounted for, one reason donors will work through established charities and not the Somali government.

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